At this time of year, New Zealanders generate a lot of extra waste, from Gift wrapping and shopping bags. Most gift wrapping is made out of hard-to-recycle mixed materials and so goes straight to landfill.

Over the Holidays, our waste volume often goes up — hardly a surprise to anyone who has ventured out into the streets on the rubbish day after christmas. The footpaths become an obstacle course of overstuffed rubbish bins and bags nearly exploding with old wrapping, ribbon and packaging.

But if everyone wrapped gifts in upcycled materials rather than buying wrapping paper new, we could save a lot of waste! So for those looking to reduce their waste this Holiday season, gift wrapping is an easy and simple place to start. Here are 12 techniques to rethink how you wrap up your gifts the wasteless way this year.

1) Furoshiki Wrapping

A series of wrapping techniques for wrapping gifts in cloth, this is a go-to for gifts of all shapes and sizes.


But before you rush out and buy brand new cloth just to wrap gifts, remember that textile waste is a significant issue in and of itself – massive quantities of textiles already go to landfill each year. It’s far more sustainable to use pieces of fabric you already have or check out local thrift stores to find second hand fabrics to use.

Check out this guide for an amazing list of the different furoshiki folding techniques you can try.

2) Stop using tape

We’ve all grown up with tape as a staple in the gift-wrapping experience. But what if I told you – you don’t need it to wrap gifts? 

It’s just as simple – maybe simpler, actually – to fold up your gift the same as you would with tape, and then fasten it together using string. And again, bonus points for reusing string you already have. 

If you absolutely feel you must have tape, opt for paper washi tape


3) Use natural greenery and foraged sprigs

Skip the plastic bows and ribbons and go foraging for leaves, pine cones, berries, cedar or pine branches instead! These are truly biodegradable and can be returned to the Earth when the unwrapping is complete.


4) Use old maps

Do you have any old maps lying around? If you don’t have a use for them anymore or anyone to pass them on to, consider using them to wrap up your Holiday gifts. 

5) Upcycle magazines

That old stack of magazines sitting at the back of your closet or on a shelf in your neighbour’s garage? Their glossy finish and brightly coloured pictures will make for stylish and chic looking gifts.


6) DIY bows out of upcycled magazines

Not only can you wrap your gifts using old magazines, you can also make bows with them! You’ll find instructions on how to do this herehereandhere. If you need a video tutorial, you’ll find a good onehere.

You can also use maps.


7) Use newspaper

Here’s an easy one: head to a coffee shop at the end of the day and grab the newspaper before it goes in the bin. Today’s news becomes tomorrow’s perfectly cute and trendy gift wrapping.

And here’s how to make the newspaper roses.

8) Use a shirt 

Check out your local op-shop for a cute shirt or find one you’ve already got but aren’t wearing anymore. You’ll find an online tutorial for how to use shirts as wrapping online here.

from Pinterest

9) DIY gift bags out of cardboard boxes

Put any cereal boxes in your recycling bin lately? Go get them out and make these cute DIY gift bags.

from the

10) Make your own Holiday cards and tags 

Reuse old cards you’ve received with gifts and upcycle them into holiday cards and gift tags. 


11) Kids artwork

Kids bring home a ton of artwork from school. You can’t keep all of it, but it probably feels bad to throw it away. With their permission, get them to select some of their drawings or paintings and use those to wrap some gifts.


12) Use whatever you have lying around 

Old cards people sent you, packaging paper or string on gifts and parcels, etc. Pull this out whenever you need to wrap a gift. This saves money and time – you don’t have to shop for gift wrapping paper!


Donate to Greenpeace today. We take no money from corporations or governments. Our independence and ability to speak and act freely is our greatest strength. To maintain that freedome, we rely on the generosity of people like you to keep us in action.

Take Action